Commentary

JUDGE’S COMMENTS

County budget planning for 2014 begins
David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

Here it is almost half way through the year and it’s time to start the process of budget planning for 2014. We’ve completed doing the pay and benefits survey of twelve surrounding counties of similar size to Milam County which is something we’ve been doing for three years now to give us a basis for planning any pay and benefits increases for county employees and elected officials during the budgeting process.

Our 2014 Budget and Tax Rate Planning Calendar is posted on the web site at www.milamcounty.net and has been for several months now. We were proud of the fact that Texas County Progress magazine actually printed our calendar last month as an example that other counties might copy if they find it useful. At any rate our departments are beginning to work on their budget proposals for next year.

At the end of May we are now 5/12 of the way through this year’s budget. On the revenue side we have collected 95 percent of ad valorem taxes or right at $6.1 million in the general fund and $3.3 million in the Road and Bridge (Precinct) accounts for a total of about $10 million counting $600,000 allocated to debt service. We anticipate that the other half million that is budgeted for the year will be collected by the end of July when those of you that pay your taxes in two installments make your second payment.

But the good news is that we are tracking ahead of budget overall on other sources of revenue year-to-date, with general fund revenues from sources other than ad valorem taxes at $1.65 million at the end of May ($60 million over budget) and at $550 thousand in the R&B accounts (mostly from auto license fees). The brightest spot of all is sales tax revenue which is at $727,000 through 5 months. I had budgeted $1.4 million for the year vs. an actual collection of $1.2 million in 2012, so 2013 is looking really good so far.

Another strong source of revenue so far in 2013 is traffic fines with almost $200,000 collected through May which is ahead of budget. Our delinquent fine collection efforts continue to go well. The latest report that I have received from McCreary, Veselka, Bragg, and Allen, our collection agents, had our delinquent collections in 2013 through March totaling $97,000, 2012 totaled some $328,000 vs. 2011 at $236,000. (Remember approximately half of delinquent collections must be sent to the state.)

The housing of inmates from Coryell County has brought in $168,000 through May averaging about 25 inmates per day. If this level of activity continues through the rest of the year, it will result in about $400,000 in total revenue which is an excellent addition to our revenue stream.

To date through May fines and fees collected by our courts and county offices (other than traffic fines) totaled $365,000 and the tax office has collected just over $100,000 in motor vehicle sales tax this year that was retained locally.

So in summary, I am confident that we are going to make 2013 budget from a revenue standpoint and through May we are running about 3 percent under budget on the cost side, so we are doing very well so far. However, the uncertainty of the costs of the murder trial that is coming up in October makes it impossible to predict how we will actually end the year on 2013 budget performance. I will keep you posted as the year progresses. In the mean time, we must begin the process of preparing the budget for 2014. dbarkemeyer@milamcounty.net


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2013-06-13 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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